When our first child was born, H wondered how we would buy diapers. We lived in a small, rural community where my husband served a small, sweet congregation. His salary was small, too—like the community and that sweet congregation—and we squeaked in at the end of each month with barely two pennies to our name.
Adding diapers to the mix was more than a notion.
We tweaked our budget and our spending, and we held our breath and crossed our fingers. We wondered if this particular ministry was the job for us, or whether we should pursue a more lucrative endeavor. Every now and then, we considered moving on. And then, we’d look across the field to where our neighbor lived or H would spend some time in the community barber shop or we’d share Sunday dinner with a family from the church, and we knew we were exactly where we were meant to be—overflowing bank account or not.
One Sunday in church, not too long ago, H told the story about how he wondered if we’d be able to provide for our son when he was born. “We always had diapers,” my husband said. “We look back and wonder how we did it, and there really is no explanation, except to say that God took care of us.”
It’s been that way for all the years we’ve been married and all the years we raised our children to adulthood, and that’s the way it is now, as we work and rest and play from the home base of our empty nest. It hasn’t always been diapers we’ve worried about. Eventually, we did move from that small community, taking small pay increases as we went. But there have been other bills that came due and made us wonder all the old questions all over again: Is this particular ministry the job for us? Should we look for a different type of work?
And then we look back over our life together and at all the times we paid the bills or had the privilege of giving to others or helped our children go to college, and we don’t have any explanation except to say that God took care of us.
When we are faithless, even then, God is faithful toward us (II Timothy 2:13).
For some people, it takes many instances of trial and error to learn one simple truth about God. For me, this money thing is the lesson I have to keep relearning. I get confused and think I’m supposed to provide for my needs, forgetting God is the expert in things like that. I get wrapped up in thinking my salary is the goal of my work. I forget my work is a gift from God and that it can be an expression of worship and a catalyst for change in the world.
Last month, my full-time job—with its full-time salary and benefits—went away. When I learned my position was being eliminated, I knew I should have been feeling a deep-seated panic. But I didn’t. Instead, I felt the confidence that God cares for me, has cared for me, and will continue to care for me. I can’t take credit for that feeling of peace. And, in the days to come I may have moments of panic as the bills keep rolling in. But for now, I have this touchstone of all the ways God has provided for us over the years. It’s enough to give me hope, even when I can’t see what’s around the bend.
Some questions for you: Can you point to times in your life where it is clear God provided for you? What did that feel like? Where would you turn if your income were not enough for you to meet your obligations? What would be your first reaction? Is the work you’re doing every day (whether paid or not) an expression of worship? How might your daily work be a catalyst for change in the world?